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Redesign Launching Fall 2018

March 2018 Update

Based on feedback from the AP community about the original draft framework, we have made additional updates to the redesigned AP U.S. Government and Politics course and exam:

  • An updated exam format
  • Changes to the practices and skills, now called disciplinary practices and reasoning processes
  • Updates and additions to the big ideas
  • Updates to the required Supreme Court cases and foundational documents

The updates are reflected in the following new resources:

  • The course and exam description (CED) (.pdf/2.0MB), replaces the draft framework released in fall 2016 and includes:
    • the course framework
    • an instructional approaches section, with recommendations and examples of how to integrate disciplinary practices with conceptual understandings
    • a guide to the required civic engagement project
    • final details on the redesigned exam format, including a full practice exam
  • Resources to help teachers with the 2018-19 AP Course Audit: curricular requirements, syllabus development guide, sample syllabi, and example textbook list.
  • For school and district administrators: A two-page course overview (.pdf/81KB) and a longer overview, the course framework (.pdf/1.10MB).

About the Redesign

As part of its ongoing process to make AP course and exam materials more effective for teachers and their students, the College Board has redesigned the AP U.S. Government and Politics course and exam for the 2018-19 school year and beyond.

Dedicated teams of AP teachers and higher education faculty worked together on this redesign for four years, gathering wide-ranging input and feedback from the public at-large and experts across the political spectrum. This collaboration is a central and indispensable part of the AP course and exam redesign process.

The result is a clear and balanced approach to the teaching of American government and politics, and an improved course and exam that will benefit teachers and their students.

The course framework has earned the support of the National Constitution Center (.pdf/308K), a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that serves as America’s leading platform for constitutional education and debate. The College Board is partnering with the NCC to create a number of free online tools and resources to support teachers and their students.

Key Improvements

  • More room for teachers to cultivate student understanding. The topic outline for the current course will be replaced by a content outline: a focused, detailed description of content that may appear on the AP Exam. This will save teachers from rapid, superficial content coverage, enabling them to spend more time helping students understand key topics in depth.
  • More focus on what students should be able to do with the knowledge they develop. The course framework defines a set of disciplinary practices and reasoning processes that will require students to analyze, compare, interpret, and communicate political information—the same skills and practices that college and university faculty expect students to have after completing the equivalent college course.
  • More emphasis on the U.S. founding documents and other primary sources. A specified set of 15 Supreme Court cases and 9 foundational documents—including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution—will now be required study.
  • More emphasis on applied learning. Students will complete a research project or investigation relating a political problem or current issue to the course content.

To see the skills and practices, understand the components of the course framework, and learn more about the required Supreme Court cases and foundational documents, download the course and exam description (CED) (.pdf/2.0MB).

Final Redesigned Exam Format

Section I: 55 multiple-choice questions (1 hour and 20 minutes)

  • Quantitative Analysis: Analysis and application of quantitative-based source material
  • Qualitative Analysis: Analysis and application of text-based (primary and secondary) sources
  • Visual Analysis: Analysis and application of qualitative visual information
  • Concept Application: Explanation of the application of political concepts in context
  • Comparison: Explanation of the similarities and differences of political concepts
  • Knowledge: Identification and definition of political principles, processes, institutions, and behaviors

Section II: Four free-response questions (1 hour and 40 minutes)

  • Concept Application: Respond to a political scenario, explaining how it relates to a political institution, behavior, or process
  • Quantitative Analysis: Analyze quantitative data, identify a trend or pattern, draw a conclusion for the visual representation, and explain how it relates to a political institution, behavior, or process 
  • SCOTUS Comparison: Compare a nonrequired Supreme Court case with a required Supreme Court case, explaining how information from the required case is relevant to that in the nonrequired one
  • Argument Essay: Develop an argument in the form of an essay, using evidence from one or more required foundational documents

Each section will count 50% toward the exam score.

The AP Course Audit

Teachers of previously authorized AP U.S. Government and Politics courses will need to submit a syllabus that meets the revised curricular requirements and have it authorized through the AP Course Audit in 2018-19. There are two ways teachers can do this:

  • Option 1: Create and submit a syllabus aligned with the new curricular requirements, now available on the AP Course Audit page.
  • Option 2: Adopt one of the annotated sample syllabi, now available on the AP Course Audit page.

The AP Course Audit has begun accepting syllabi. The deadline for teachers to submit new or revised syllabi and for administrators to approve AP Course Audit forms is Jan. 31, 2019.

What’s Next?

Before the fall, teachers will have the opportunity to attend professional development workshops and will get additional resources to get ready to teach the redesigned course:

  • A secure practice exam
  • Reading skills lessons featuring the required foundational documents
  • Teaching and Assessing modules
  • AP Summer Institutes
  • In-person professional development